Malaysia: Forest conservation also creating jobs

New Straits Times 7 Nov 12;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will continue to strive to excel in the governance of best practices in forest management and conservation.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman stressed the key focus in driving sustainability was restoration and rebuilding of the productive capacity of forests.

This includes rationalising forest land use from the ecological and social perspectives and further developing as well as capitalising ecosystem services provided by the forest and its biodiversity in search of sustainable financing.

"The state government recognises the need for wide stakeholder participation and for this reason, adopts an open and wide partnership programme at the local and international level as part of our efforts to institutionalise the conservation and management of our forests."

Musa said this in his speech delivered by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yee Moh Chai at the International Conference of Heart of Borneo (HoB) here, yesterday.

HoB is aimed at conserving and managing the ecologically interconnected highlands of Borneo and parts of the adjacent foothills and lowland rainforests covering 22 million ha.

Describing it as Sabah's brand towards a greener pathway, Musa said the two-day conference would provide the state government with ideas and recommendations to make HoB a better place for wildlife, the environment and the economy.

"Much has been achieved in Sabah since the inception of HoB (in 2009). Sabah Forestry has received funds through the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry for the implementation of the HoB programmes.

"These funds are used to carry out biodiversity documentation on various selected forest reserves and social baseline studies of nearby communities."

To date, 17 forest reserves have been surveyed and results incorporated into the preparation of forest management plans that contribute significantly to the best practices in forest management, added Musa.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said 1.3 million ha of Sabah forest was now totally protected and the HoB project had created job opportunities for indigenous people.

"Restoration works started from zero to about 440,000ha now and the best thing about it is that the benefit of this work goes to the community in the interior.

"We are creating what we call 'kampung taukeh', which means indigenous people skilled at forest management work are given contracts on a commercial basis."